Go Mobile Marketing Takes to the Wireless Web
system, triangulation methods or through a WiFi node," says Rob Ray, vice president of technology, iLeo agency.
"When you get into location," says Ray, "when you start sending someone personal information with that 'we know where you are' mentality—people will have, for sure, huge privacy concerns."
While Ray sees opt-in marketing to mobile devices as the most lucrative route at present, he says he does see applications for location-based initiatives, particularly with WiFi.
WiFi is the technology some airports, hotels and companies such as Starbucks and McDonald's employ to provide wireless Internet access.
"Coffee shops offer it as a value-added service, to make it a stop on your daily routine," says Ray. "There's a lot of hype and promise, and I think that it's valid in that it's pretty mind-bending. But right now I think it's seen as merely a convenience. When you fire up WiFi in a hotel, you're not offered any messaging about what your hotel services are. They could offer up a list of services or provide a questionnaire.
"A WiFi hotspot doesn't have such a long reach per node that you don't know where a person [using it] is," explains Ray. For example, McDonald's knows that anyone accessing its hotspot is no more than, say, 100 yards away. If you're offering WiFi to people who are nearby, figures Ray, you can offer couponing as well.
In fact, Ray sees WiFi as a more viable means of location-based marketing than using GPS to deliver messages to mobile phones. "Mobile messaging is a one-way communication. You're going to be more surprised [to receive an offer on your phone]," figures Ray. "But if you're seeking a WiFi network, you're already seeking out some sort of information. … I would be willing to accept an offer in exchange for access to the Internet. It's a give and take.